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Georgia Governor to open Childhood Literacy Symposium

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to open Childhood Literacy as a Public Health & Economic Imperative Symposium on July 30th

The focus of the event will be the vital role education plays in closing the opportunity gap for children and their parents

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal will offer opening remarks at the Childhood Literacy as a Public Health & Economic Imperative Symposium on July 30, 2016 at the Atlanta Speech School in Atlanta, GA. The two-day event will focus on how to apply research to practice in order to create population-based solutions for closing the opportunity gap in the United States.

In addition to remarks from Governor Deal, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health and State Health Officer, will speak about the public health and neurological imperative to provide universal access to language and literacy for Georgia’s children. The event will feature presentations from four nationally and internationally renowned experts:

  1. Maryanne Wolf, Ph.D., John DiBiaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service Director, Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University

  2. Greg Duncan, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor in Education and Economics at the University of California, Irvine

  3. Marcia Carlson, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology and with the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin

  4. Walter Gilliam, Ph.D., Director of the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University

The Atlanta Speech School and The Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP) will co-host the event, and partners include the Cleveland Clinic, the National Community Action Foundation, and Kennesaw State University. You can view the symposium agenda by clicking here. Participants can view a detailed weekend agenda (as of 28 July) at this link.

“There is no better place to host this national symposium,” said Comer Yates, Executive Director for the Atlanta Speech School. “Under the leadership of Governor Deal, Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal, a life-long educator, and the governor’s administration, Georgia is demonstrating national leadership in its commitment to transformative changes in outcomes in childhood literacy. By example, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald is recognized across the country for her tireless, unconditional and innovative efforts to ensure healthy brain and language development for all of Georgia’s young children. Such resolve is essential as only 21 percent of the nation’s children receiving free and reduced lunch are proficient readers.” (NAEP 2015)

Nearly 100 Shepherd Consortium summer interns will be joined by nearly 50 faculty and staff from more than 20 SHECP member and prospective member colleges and universities to participate in the symposium on Saturday. They will join childhood literacy educators, administrators, policy makers and advocates from Georgia and beyond to develop a working agenda for assuring that each and every child is on a path to reading proficiently by the end of third grade.

On the second day, the interns will report on what they have learned about poverty and opportunity during their internships in locations from Klagetoh, AZ, to Burlington, VT. Harlan Beckley, Executive Director of the Shepherd Consortium comments: “I speak on behalf of my colleagues in the Consortium to express gratitude that the Atlanta Speech School, one of the most innovative institutions in childhood education, will host this symposium on childhood literacy and conference for our interns to report on what they have learned.”

Media contacts: Amy DiElsi, 215.990.3006 / Kate Centofanti, 203.912.9279 /


About the Atlanta Speech School:

Positioned at the intersection of brain science and social science, the Atlanta Speech School (the “School”) effects transformative change in the lives of children and adults through research-based practices, innovation, advocacy, and partnerships with other organizations so that each child at the School and every child in Georgia can acquire the language and literacy abilities essential for deciding his or her own future. Established in 1938, the School is the nation’s most comprehensive center for language and literacy. Composed of four schools, five clinics, summer programs and a professional development center, each division shares one common mission: to work within each program and collaborate across all programs to help each person develop his or her full potential through language and literacy. Each day, extraordinarily dedicated and talented individuals make profound differences in the lives of the children and adults they serve helping them discover their voice, and the power of that voice for a lifetime. As a core part of its mission, the School has never denied access to a child in need of its services as a result of a family’s socioeconomic circumstances.

 About SHECP

Established in 2011, the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty unites nearly two dozen institutions to collaborate for an important venture in undergraduate and professional education. The member schools integrate rigorous classroom study of poverty with tailored and focused summer internships and co-curricular activities during the academic year. This combination, sustained over two or three years, enriches the education of students in a wide variety of majors and professional studies who intend many different career paths. The intent is to prepare students for a lifetime of professional, civic and political activity that will diminish poverty, drawing on a multitude of perspectives and initiatives.


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